When technology causes a reputation crisis, let your customer service shine!

When technology causes a reputation crisis, let your customer service shine!

If you have ever used any form of technology, there’s a good chance you’ve had a mishap of one sort or another.  Whether it’s a misfired tweet, a post to the wrong Facebook page, a technology hiccup during a presentation, or a misplaced email, it’s never fun when technology gets in the way of you doing business to the standard which your customers have become accustomed.  The good news?  You’re not the first to want to crawl under your desk in embarrassment, and you certainly won’t be the last.

Admit it, you've wanted to do this a time or two...
Admit it, you’ve wanted to do this a time or two…

What do you do in the face of a technological oops?  Do you turn tail and run?  Not if you want to maintain the respect of your customers and colleagues.  Here are some surefire ways to get back on your feet after a faux pas of the electronic nature:

  • Acknowledge the incident.  With any potentially damaging situation, be up front and above board with your customers.  [highlight color=”yellow”]Trying to bury something rarely works out for anything other than losing the trust of those around you and damaging your reputation.[/highlight]
  • Apologize.  After letting people know that you’re aware of your error, apologize for any inconvenience or frustration they may have encountered.  This is especially important for technology outages – if email is down, your help desk is inaccessible, or your website is down, you want people to know that you understand the inconvenience caused by the problem, and you empathize with their frustration.  A sincere apology goes a long way, especially in this era of “not my fault” that we seem to be living in these days.
  • Be honest.  Did you accidentally fire off a Tweet from the wrong account?  Hopefully you’d never post something overly rude or offensive from any account, but even if you caused some confusion, let your followers know what happened.  A sincere “oops, we goofed!” will go a long way in securing trust for your brand.  Everyone makes mistakes, it’s the way that we react to them that displays our character.  Show your customers and associates that yours is good.
  • Make it right.  If your downtime caused a client to lose money, give them a discount on their service with you for the next month, or refund part of their most recent payment.  It will cost you a lot less in the long run if you can convert them from a disgruntled customer to a brand evangelist.  Make sure they’re happy and avoid them leaving you for the competition.  Don’t know what you can do to make right with a client?  Ask them.  Often, they’ll be happy to tell you what they need, and it is typically less than you’d imagine.  People want to know that they’re being heard, and that their opinion matters.  Show them that they are and that it does, you won’t regret it.
  • Move forward.  What will you do to prevent an incident like this one in the future?  Better servers and hosting to reduce downtime? More efficient organization to ensure that emails get returned promptly?  Whatever type of problem you’ve encountered, take a few minutes to figure out how to avoid it in the future, and then tell people what your plans are to fix things.  It is surprisingly refreshing when brands are candid and transparent with their users.  Be that breath of fresh air.

Everyone knows that technology isn’t foolproof, show them that no matter what happens, your service is.  Be the brand that people are left feeling great about after they interact with you.  In the long run, it takes far less effort (and financial investment) to provide great service – why not set the example for the rest of the business world?

Do you have a memorable experience centered around a technology frustration?  Did it end well, or were you ready to take a baseball bat to a machine before it was over?